Ticket to Ride, Chapter 1, Get Behind Me Satan

Image from waikikitutu.com
Image from waikikitutu.com

Get behind me satan,

quit ravishing the land

does it take the children to make you understand?

from “Donkey Jaw” by America, 1972


Friday, April 28, 1975

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean there’s a small island shaped like the number eight. As the morning sun peels away its shadows, you can see, at the end of one of the volcanic fingers that stretch away from its north shore beaches, a rundown Craftsman style cottage, the home of Morgan Blake and his parents. In the morning, and in the bedroom at the back of the house, you can almost invariably find Morgan, pecking away at his typewriter, smiling and furrowing his brow, rolling in a sometimes “fine frenzy.”

A few vertebrae pop into place as Morgan sits up straight and away from his desk. The clock on the shelf above the typewriter reads 5:35am. He takes a deep breath, sets down his pen and thesaurus, and begins to read his composition aloud:

“As the sun set far away over East India

Signaling the pastel-end of another Naga day

In the middle of the expansive and placid Pacific

That same celestial lantern was,

Like a seasoned actor,

Quietly rehearsing its island encore,


On fire is the sky at dawn when

Gentle winds blow lightly, almost silently

Over the red and recalcitrant earth, while

The silver-tongued clouds of the night jump the color

Wheel, and shed the fleeting chill of their dark half-day,

Ebony gives way to indigo as the stars seem

To disappear, invisible but never intangible.


Fingers of light strike first the great volcano

Then fill the flatland cane fields, flooding

The island with a thousand shades of shadowy green.”


“There, I’ve captured morning…

Morgan Blake, the seventeen-year-old poet laureate of the islands,” he said smiling.


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